Filing an Insurance Claim for a Car Accident Caused by Bad Weather
While you turn your lights on as soon as it starts drizzling and keep a safe following distance during any type of inclement weather, not everyone else does. And when negligent drivers get behind the wheel during bad weather, serious accidents can happen. If you suffered injuries in a bad weather accident, you can recover compensation for your injuries; however, there are a few things you should know about filing an insurance claim for a car accident caused by bad weather.
We determine fault the same way for inclement weather collisions as we do for ones that happen during fair weather. As in any accident, the party that behaved negligently is responsible for any injuries that resulted. If the speed limit is 45 miles per hour on a certain stretch of roadway, but visibility is poor, drivers should slow down to ensure they will be able to stop quickly or to avoid unforeseen hazards in the roadway.
If they do not and an accident occurs, they are negligent and will be responsible for any injuries that occur.
This is common in weather-related accidents. However, inclement weather is not a valid defense against car accident claims. Drivers have a duty to drive safely regardless of the weather.
For example, if a driver was having difficulty seeing because of the rain, he should have pulled over until visibility improved.
If his inability to see resulted in an accident, he is responsible for that accident because he made the negligent decision to keep driving.
Proving a driver is liable for a bad weather wreck can be more complicated than an accident that occurs in fair weather. For example, if a driver is speeding, tailgating, or breaking any other traffic law and this legal violation contributed to the accident, the driver is at fault.
However, in many cases, bad weather accidents occur when none of the drivers were speeding, tailgating, or breaking other rules of the road.
We must, instead, prove that the driver was not operating his vehicle in a reasonable and prudent manner for the adverse weather conditions. How we manage your case depends on how the accident happened. Consider the following negligent behaviors:
Driving Too Fast for Conditions
There are different rules for safe speeds in inclement weather. While every road has a speed limit, a different, more subjective limit applies in bad weather. For example, driving 45 miles per hour on a stretch of roadway might be totally safe on a clear day. However, if the roads are wet, you might need to slow down to 30 miles per hour.
Following Too Closely
Adverse weather also changes the rules on tailgating. Section 40-6-49 of the 2016 Georgia code mandates that "the driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway."
In other words, even if you kept a following distance of four car lengths, you can be guilty of tailgating if the road conditions have deteriorated due to bad weather and you do not leave enough space between vehicles to account for this situation.
While distracted driving is always dangerous, it can be especially so when weather conditions are challenging. Drivers must focus their attention entirely on the road in all types of weather. If the driver in your accident was distracted, we will hold him accountable for both driving while distracted and not driving safely for conditions.
Georgia is a modified comparative fault state with a 50 percent bar rule. "Comparative fault" means that you can receive compensation for your injuries even if you are partly at fault, but your percentage of fault will reduce the amount you receive. "Modified” comparative fault means that if your fault exceeds the limit allowed by your state, you will receive nothing from the other negligent driver for your injuries. The "50 percent bar rule" is the limit in the state of Georgia.
In other words, if you are 50 percent or more at fault, you will receive nothing for your damages. If you are 49 percent at fault, you can receive compensation for your losses, but you will only receive 51 percent of your damages (e.g., $5,100 of $10,000).
If you have suffered injuries in a bad weather car accident, the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. can help you. Call us today at 404-474-0804 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.